What to Think of Odd Future’s Homophobia After Frank Ocean’s Coming Out

In the early hours of July 4th, Odd Future member Frank Ocean came out on his personal blog with the story about falling in love with a man four summers ago. His bravery was met with positive reactions from the hip-hop community, including Russell Simmons, who lauded the young singer-songwriter for his honesty. He also received a nice response from Odd Future frontman (I suppose?) Tyler, the Creator, who posted on Twitter, "My Big Brother Finally Fucking Did That. Proud Of That Nigga Cause I Know That Shit Is Difficult Or Whatever. Anyway. I’m A Toilet." A very emphatic statement!

Days later, of course, it has become time to spark a discussion about what this means for Tyler, the Creator. The rapper, as well as the Odd Future collective as a whole, came under much scrutiny last year for their misogynist and homophobic lyrics, which were often coupled with violent rhetoric. (This is where I come clean and admit that I’ve never taken much time to listen to any of Odd Future’s various members’ music except for Frank Ocean.) It’s particularly unsettling as Frank Ocean has come out (as what, that is, is unclear, as he has not specified if he identifies as gay or bisexual), and considering Odd Future producer and DJ Syd tha Kid is a lesbian.

So, is it fair to call Odd Future a homophobic rap collective? Tyler, the Creator claims he is not homophobic at all:

Chatting to a fan on social media website Formspring, he wrote: "hahaha yeah, ive know for a while, he told me a long time ago. it was just funny cause i was getting bashed as a homophobe or whatever and i kept saying dude how am i one? i have gay friends like what the fuck leave me alone haha. yeah thats my nigga tho, shit is hard for him but he did that."

To be clear, Tyler was labeled a homophobe for his repeated use of various gay slurs on his debut album, Goblin—231 times, to be exact

Former BlackBook editor and current Observer writer Foster Kamer posits, via his personal Tumblr,  that Tyler’s frequent use of "faggot" and its variants do not, inherently, make him a homophobic artist, nor does it mean one can toss the same criticism to Odd Future as a whole:

Besides all of the wonderful things that will come out of Frank Ocean’s “outing” himself—or whathaveyou—the idea that labeling Odd Future as a homophobic collective just became more complex and frustrating to people who are fans of oversimplifying complex issues as a matter of making an argument (but really: jumping onto whatever outrage bandwagon is getting “liked” on Tumblr more than others on any particular week) is also a particularly delightful one. The world needs more nuance. It needs to frustrate our most simple thinkers (who have the loudest, angriest voices, as is often the case). And those people should be upset more often, and more often they should be upset by evolving realities like this one: That, in the entirety of rap—or hip hop as a culture—Odd Future has had the most success commensurate with the fact that their DJ is a gay woman, and their most arguably famous member is a bisexual man, while also being one of the most maligned groups for their ostensibly homophobic and misogynistic music. That’s a reality worth savoring.

It’s an interesting and complex thought, for sure, but I’m not sure I buy it. Tyler, the Creator can now claim that he’s not homophobic—two of his best friends and colleagues are not straight!—but that sort of claim is, as we all know, bullshit. That’s a very definitive response that any non-straight person can make. As a gay man who grew up in a rural town in Virginia, there’s a lot of my personal life that I do not share with friends and family back home. I’m certainly out and open, and most people know about it and accept it! But that doesn’t mean I don’t get incredibly uncomfortable when I am around people who casually make homophobic remarks. (And don’t get me started on the casual racism, because oof.)

Basically, intolerance runs deep, and it’s not always a blatant thing. But I know that even if one of my very close friends was expressing him or herself with homophobic language, I would feel uncomfortable and hurt, mostly because I make it my beeswax to not be around people who toss around "faggot." So, in the end, if Odd Future members continue to do so, I (and plenty of other people) will continue to combat it with the word "homophobic." In all honestly, I get the vibe that Tyler, the Creator likes the attention that comes from being aggressive—he is a performer, after all, and getting attention is his job. But there’s no need for the hateful and violent language, and considering that two members of Odd Future—a minority, for certain—do not identiy as straight… Well, that is certainly a complicated problem, isn’t it?

Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt Was Sent to Samoa to Learn a Lesson

What is it about those kids in Odd Future that makes them so irresistible to writers? (This one included.)

Today, The New York Times once again delves into the world of OFWGKTA with a really, really long profile of Thebe Kgositsile AKA Earl Sweatshirt.  

Indeed, if you read hip-hop trade publications like the Times and The New Yorker, you already know that Earl Sweatshirt was an integral part of the group who mysteriously disappeared. Well, was disappeared by a protective mother to a boarding school in Samoa—about as far from the hijinks of the Los Angeles-based  Tyler, the Creator as he could get. Until February, that is, when Mr. Sweatshirt returned to California.

It’s a return that’s been strange for the young hip-hop superstar and his law professor mom. “I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams that this decision to send him away to a school that had the kind of support for his emotional well-being that he needed would turn into a story about locking him away,” she said.

But it was, making “Free Earl” a much-tweeted battle cry from Odd Future fans.

Now that he’s free, after months of school and some eye-opening volunteering with Samoan victims of sexual abuse—who probably haven’t heard some of his violent and anti-woman lyrics—he’s changed, according to his cohorts.

“He’s matured,” OF producer Syd the Kyd said. “It’s weird to say that because in my circle a friend’s maturity isn’t necessarily looked up at. But he hasn’t changed.”

Afternoon Links: Amanda Bynes Arrested For DUI, Snoop Dogg’s Smokeable Songbook

● Amanda Bynes was arrested last night for DUI after she accidentally side-swiped a cop car at 3AM. On the bright side, her new lilac ‘do made for a lovely mugshot. [TMZ]

● Dolly Parton bought Dollywood a brand new $20 million roller coaster for that she won’t even ride because, she warns, "You don’t wanna see what a real bald eagle looks like." Certainly not. [USAToday]

● You can literally smoke Snoop Dogg’s new songbook, Rolling Words, which is made entirely of his new hemp seed Kingsize Slim paper, ready to be ripped out, rolled up, and enjoyed. After you’ve read it, of course. [Fuse]

● Katy Perry almost made her big screen debut in The Help, but she couldn’t fit the filming into her busy schedule. And so instead, it’ll be this. [Vulture]

● In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Downtown Abbey executive producer Rebecca Eaton lets slide that, in the upcoming third season, “Somebody will be born, and somebody will die, somebody pretty key in the cast, unfortunately not going to make it,” she says. “It’s the 1920s now.”

● Tyler, the Creator got what you might call a taste of his own medicine on last night’s Punk’d. [Stereogum]

Morning Links: SNL Gets A New Cast Member, ‘Twins’ Gets A Sequel

Saturday Night Live has added a funny and also openly gay woman—a first for the show—to their cast. Kate McKinnon of The Big Gay Sketch Show fame will be welcomed on next weekend’s Sofia Vergara-hosted episode. [NYP]

● Tyler, the Creator wants Lana Del Rey to know that, should she be interested, he is totally "down" to make musical magic together and that he has some "pretty instrumentals," to boot. It is not too late to unplug your Internet. [Vulture]

● Kate Winslet says she feels "like throwing up" every time she hears Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go On." The stars, they really are just like us! [MTV]

● Lady Gaga rang in her 26th year with a birthday spin class set to Bruce Springsteen. [Us]

● Joining Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, Eddie Murphy will make three genetically engineered brothers in the totally insane sounding Triplets, the proposed sequel, of course, to DeVito and Schwarzenegger’s Twins. [THR]

● Questlove—who bought his first hoodie at the Gap after watching Tribe Called Quest’s "Can I Kick It" video—does "love" a hoodie, but ­he worries that their symbolic role in the Trayvon Martin protests might be a “distraction … to keep eyes off the ­issue of race relations in America. ” [NYM]

Watch Odd Future Critique an Up-and-Coming Rapper on MTV’s ‘RapFix Live’

"I just want to say, this is so fucked up of you guys to do this with us," Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator says at the start of this video. "For you to do this to this kid’s self-esteem… that’s fucked up." He’s talking about the "Get in the Game" segment on MTV’s RapFix Live in which Odd Future was asked to critique Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$, who’s not even old enough to perform his Skype interview from somewhere other than his high school’s hallway. After watching the video for his "Survival Tactics" song, the Odd Future members were as congenial as they could possibly be. Watch the clip after the jump, via Vibe

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"You can rap," Earl Sweatshirt says, with which Domo Genesis concurs. "Stay in school," Tyler tells Bada$$ before adding, "You know Grizzly Bear is coming out with a new album, right? So excited." The song’s not bad, so it’s nice that they weren’t too rude about the whole thing. Grab Odd Future’s newly released The OF Tape Vol. 2 and keep up with Joey Bada$$ on his Twitter, which he so helpfully provides in the clip.  (That’s badass spelled b-a-d-a-s-s.)

Watch Video for Odd Future’s “Oldie,” Earl Sweatshirt’s First Interview Since Coming Home

Earl Sweatshirt is perhaps the most talented and most mysterious member of Odd Future, having just returned from an almost two-year stint at a Samoan re-education camp because, as he puts it, “[he] was fucking up.” That’s from a brand new radio interview with Earl with Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg, the first he’s done since coming back to all of the hype that popped off while he was away. Joined by OF members Tyler and Taco, there’s about 11 minutes of the somewhat reserved Earl discussing what his life has been like, how he’s dealing with fame, and answering other burning questions. Watch it after the click, via Pitchfork.

Tyler is obnoxiously combative as always, but Earl’s pretty hesitant to answer the questions about himself until Rosenberg, ever the pro, gets him to open up. Eventually, Earl stops giving one word answers and gets a little candid about how much has changed since those early OF days. “We were there when no one was there and could do whatever we want every day like it was nothing,” he says. “The other day I was trying to skate and I just couldn’t.” And then: “I was taking a piss at Six Flags and someone asked me if I was Earl Sweatshirt.” That sounds like fun! He also says that he wasn’t sent away because his mom heard one of his songs and freaked out, as the popular perception goes, but because he was screwing up in a lot of other ways. He thinks he’s better for now it now.

Still, the time off hasn’t robbed him of the ability to shit on his friends: when hypeman Taco starts poking fun at Earl’s somewhat diminished finances (he wasn’t around to make all of the money that OF has over the last year), Earl tells him, “Don’t act like you’re not the Meg of our group.” (Meg Griffin, I think, because at least Meg White laid down a beat.) To which Taco says: “Fuck you! I’ve always been the Meg!” Oh, youth.

OF also just released a video for their song, “Oldie,” a ten-minute posse cut which features every member of the collective on the track, including Earl and Frank Ocean. It’s pretty great.

Earl is rumored to be joining OF’s New York show tonight to celebrate the release of the group’s The OF Tape Vol. 2, which is out today. Get ready for rap Twitter to blow up tonight if that’s the case.

Hear Frank Ocean Sing the Po-Mo Blues on ‘White’

Teenage wastelanders Odd Future are set to release a new album next week called Odd Future Tape Vol. 2, featuring contributions from the entire Wolf Gang. A few days ahead of schedule, one of those cuts has leaked out: Frank Ocean’s "White," a sparse ballad in which the singer explores the really big questions. "Could this be Earth? Could this be light?" Ocean asks in his strong quiver. "Does this mean everything’s going to be alright?" So yes, he’s still singing the same type of self-aware emotional blues that brought him to attention on last year’s Nostalgia, Ultra. Listen to it after the click, via Prefix.

There’s a lyric about "all my white friends," but let’s wait a little while to touch that. In other Odd Future news, ringleader Tyler the Creator is getting pranked in an upcoming episode of the new Punk’d series. Isn’t it charming, the way he tries to run away after potentially killing someone? Look out for the full appearance in a little bit.

Morning Links: Bobbi Kristina Trusts Oprah, Lady Gaga Hits 20 Million Twitter Followers

● Bobbi Kristina has entrusted Oprah with her first interview since Whitney’s death becasue, she says, Oprah "was loyal to my mom, and never did my mother wrong, or made her look bad. She always looked out for my mom." Their talk will air Sunday. [TMZ]

● Tina Fey was supposed to help Lindsay Lohan deliver her opening monologue on Saturday Night Live but pulled out at the last second because her kids were sick — or because she’s tired of defending her Mean Girls co-star, depending on who you ask. [NYDN]

● The Barenaked Ladies will provide the score for Delta Chi Fraternity in the upcoming adaptation, Animal House: The Musical. [ArtsBeat]

● Lady Gaga became the first person to hit 20 million twitter followers. Followers number 19,999,998 or 19,999,999 or even 20 million — where have you been? [NME]

● Details about The Canyon, the microbudget, L.A. based noir film Brett Easton Ellis supposedly wrote for porn star James Deen, are begining to emerge. [Playlist]

● Odd Future debuted the second track off their collective album, The OF Tape Vol. 2, and "Rella" followup, "NY (Ned Flander)" last night. The predictably weirdo video is directed by none other than Tyler himself under his Wolf Haley alias. [RapRadar]

Watch the Trailer for ‘Loiter Squad,’ Odd Future’s Adult Swim Show

Because I am nothing but a slave to the hype machine, here is the trailer for the Odd Future-affiliated Adult Swim sketch show, Loiter Squad. Set to premiere on March 25, it looks to be a delightful/annoying absurdist comedy romp, with the members of Odd Future dressing up like E.T., doing snow angels on open-faced jelly sandwiches and covering themselves in nacho cheese, among other hijinks. (There appears to be a sketch in which a date goes wrong after the male transforms under influence of the moon to become Xzibit, everyone’s favorite punchline rapper. Were-Xzibit!!) 

The show will presumably make use of the collective’s greater roster, but for now it looks like members Taco, Jasper, Lionel, and of course, Tyler, will feature prominently. The March 25 premiere date ties in nicely with the group’s upcoming OF Tape Vol. 2, which is still set for release on March 20. If you want more, you can download a free Hodgy Beats EP; if you want less, well, that’s on you.